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Minister Briefs SETE On Government’s Tourism Strategy

“Our first priority is to attract more investment to Greece through tourism in order to attract more visitors… These are the two main pillars we are working on,” Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos said to the press last month after he presented the government’s strategy for the development of Greek tourism for 2011-2021 to the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises’ (SETE) Board of Directors.

The objectives and priorities set by the Government for the 2011-2021 decade are based on the cooperation of tourism professionals and SETE’s study “Greek Tourism 2020-Proposal for a new development model” that was released in January.

Mr. Yeroulanos told SETE’s Board that the Government aims for Greece to be included within the first 10 tourism destinations in the world; for the direct and indirect tourism Gross Value Added (GDP-taxes + subsidies) to reach 50 billion euros; and for jobs in the tourism industry to reach one million.

According to sources, questions were raised in regards to how and when some of the minister’s proposals would actually be implemented.

Tourism professionals also wondered what role the Greek National Tourism Organization would exactly have in the planned marketing company based on public-private sector partnership.

While speaking to the press, Mr. Yeroulanos said the government was focusing on three levels of markets to attract additional arrivals to Greece.

The first level the culture and tourism minister referred to involves Greece’s traditional markets from Europe that “have great development potential but in recent years suffered setbacks due to (Greece’s) bad relations with some countries.”

The second level includes the latest markets Greece has approached and “for which all must work together to continue their development” such as Russia, Turkey and Israel and the third level involves the new markets of China, India and Brazil.

In a recent interview, Mr. Yeroulanos said this year’s tourism season showed very encouraging figures in both arrivals and revenue.

In regards to foreign arrivals this year, Greece experienced a 9.67 percent increase for the January-September period compared with the same period last year, according to data compiled by SETE from 12 of Greece’s major airports.

In September alone arrivals increased by 8.81 percent compared to last year, which amounted to 1,665,218 tourists.

However, according to tourism professionals, despite the strong growth in arrivals in the month under review, tourism revenue did not present the same encouraging image.

Zakynthos, for example, may have recorded an increase in arrivals in September (14.43 percent) but, according to Christina Tetradi, president of the Laganas Hotels Association, the specific arrivals are nothing more than a “theoretical” figure.

“If arrivals are combined with the reduced nights/length of stay, reduced contract rates and the reduced level of purchasing traffic, then unfortunately the financial results are negative,” Ms. Tetradi said in an announcement.

According to the Mckinsey study on tourism “Greece 10 Years Ahead,” foreign visitors represent 60 percent of a destination’s tourism traffic while the remaining 40 percent is covered by domestic tourism.

Ms. Tetradi said Zakynthos is a destination that moves with high rates of domestic tourism, which this year has dropped at least by 30 percent.

“Therefore, despite the percentage increase of airport arrivals from abroad, negative final results are expected,” she concluded.

The Greek press said that during the first eight months of the year the number of passengers on domestic flights at all Greek airports dropped by 10 percent compared to the same period in 2010.

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